The Catalan Opening

The Catalan Opening

Oct 2, 2011, 3:56 AM |

Curiously enough Savielly Tartakower the creator of the Catalan opening, was Polish. 
This opening was officially played for the first time in 1929 in the town of Sitges (near Barcelona). There were the best players at that time such as Tartakower.

  Tartakower, looking at a hard flank of the king having a cup of tea

The winner of the tournament was Capablanca. Tartakower finished second. 
(You can find here all the games of this tournament).

  Participants and organizers of 
 1929 Barcelona International Tournament

The passionate Francesc Armengol who was one of the organizers of the International Chess Tournament framed in the Universal Exposition of Barcelona. Armengol had in mind that it should be an opening called the Catalan opening, so that there is also Spanish, Italian, French or Nederland openness. So, he took advantage of going to the tournament to call a competition where the participants had to invent and play a new opening, that would take that name.

  In the middle Alexander Alekhine. Francesc Armengol, the shorter, on the right of Mrs Alekhine

It was the Polish Tartakower who won the competition and he put in his pocket the not despicable, at that time, 150 pessetes (just over one dollar today). In return for these fees de Catalan people have the honour of the existence of the Catalan opening (1.d4 Nf6  2.c4 e6  3.g3), a strange combination of gambit of queen with a fianchetto of the kingside.

   The Catalan opening after 3.g3

We can say that although this particular source, the Catalan opening has been occasionally played for style positional players such as Botwinnik  or Petrosian. Kasparov and Korchnói also used it in several of his games in the semi-finals of the candidates tournament of 1982.

The Catalan opening is a branch of Indian system designed to prevent Nimzoindian or the Indian Queen defence. Many known games with this opening end in draw, as predicted in 1929, the firs game between Tartakower and Torres. The idea of the Catalan opening is to attack the queen  flank with the bishop. The disadvantage is that since the third move, the black just knows that the white will move and  then, it is possible to take measures. 

Here you can see the first official game of Catalan opening played on Sitges in 1929:

  Game comments (in spanish) by López Manzano and Monedero González:

You can explore this opening (ECO E00-E09) here:
Explore catalan opening

 La apertura catalana
        A video (in Spanish) that last more than an hour about Catalan opening,  bassed on a recent
        game between Vladimir Kramnik and Vishy Anand. 
Celada en la apertura catalana

 Ajedrez estratégico: cómo dominar el juego cerrado (Edmar Mednis)

        Online book with examples of games with the Catalan opening
 The catalan opening (Y. N. Neustadt)    Download PDF book

More information
Catalan opening  in Chessbase
Catalan opening games in
Catalan opening in
Catalan opening in Games database
Catalan opening variations
Jim West on chess: Catalan oppening